The song remains the same

(Psst. I have an e-mail newsletter. You should totally sign up for it. I might surprise you with stuff you don’t get to see here, or anywhere, for that matter. Okay, on with the story….)

This past week I was sitting in a coffee shop, as I am wont to do—and there’s a phrase that doesn’t get used often enough, “wont to do.” And to be honest, until I just typed it here, I never have bothered to look up the origin of “wont.” As it turns out, it’s of Germanic origin, coming to us through Old English, and means “dwell” or “be accustomed.” You’re welcome.

Where was I? Oh, right. Coffee shop. Because life doesn’t happen until caffeine happens. So there I was, drinking an Americano and trying (but failing) to write, when the song “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” came on. Immediately, I thought of Cathie.

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Catching up with ’Nathan Burgoine, author of TRIAD BLOOD

Nathan Burgoine is the author of the novel Light, a Lambda Literary Award finalist . His second novel, Triad Blood, just came out this month and features a trio of supernatural characters first introduced in stories that have appeared in a range of anthologies over the years. Now they’re finally getting their own standalone book, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

triad-blood-smallI’ve known ’Nathan since sometime in 2009 and often think of him as my anthology brother, since we’ve had stories appear in the same collections more times than I can count. And ever since I met him and his husband at the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival, they’ve been people I always look forward to catching up with.  He’s a great writer, a super supportive reader, and generally one of the damn nicest human beings I know. (It should come as no surprise, therefore, when I tell you he’s Canadian.)

So you’re an avowed lover of the short story form and, what d’you know, here’s another novel! How is it for you to shift from short to long and back again?

If I had my druthers, I’d likely live in the world of short fiction (and maybe novellas), but the publishing world is what it is and I have to admit that every now and then there’s a story that won’t “fit” in the short story format that wants out of my noggin. Triad Blood was exactly that—it was a multiple-times failure at a short fiction piece that I finally clued in was too much to tell in a short story. Then it grew to a novella, and even then I had more I wanted to do with it, so… Novel.

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Wednesday Links, the "get off your ass" edition

So, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve worked on the novel with anything that could be called regularity. (Insert obvious Metamucil joke here.) Instead, I’ve been really feeling the short stories lately, and I’ve got three new ideas for pieces under way. This, I thought, was a good thing, but I’ve also been thinking, have I been focusing on stories because I’m afraid of my novel? It’s a mess already, and I’m worried I’ll screw it up so badly that I have to put it aside and declare it a drawer novel.

But that’s no excuse. So I’m dusting it off and trying again. Anyway.

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Q&A with Fiona Riley, author of MISS MATCH

I’ve mentioned the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival a lot in the past, and one of the things I like best about this annual gathering of writers, editors, and readers of queer literature is catching up with old friends and making new ones. This year, meeting Fiona Riley was one of the highlights for me: enthusiastic, charming, and all-around wonderful, I had a great time hanging out with her and her wife, and she also provided a much-needed kick in the pants to me to get my own writing practice into higher gear.

Miss Match FINAL COVER(1)Fiona’s debut novel, Miss Match, comes out this week officially. It’s already available at the Bold Strokes Books website, so go check it out. (Bonus: Any ebook you order from the site this month gets you a free copy of “Three,” the ’Nathan Burgoine story that introduced the characters at the centre* of his new novel Triad Blood—but more about him later.)

*Because he’s Canadian, don’t ya know….

I was lucky enough to read Miss Match in advance last month, and it was quite the enjoyable read and, as an erotic lesbian romance, very much outside my wheelhouse. And that’s one of the things I enjoyed so much about it. As much as I looked to fiction while I was growing up for representations of myself, as an adult I am drawn to stories and characters outside my own experience.

Also, it’s just way sexy, yo.

After I finished reading it, I caught up with Fiona to ask her a few questions. Without further ado, here’s what she had to say. It’s long, but it’s pretty awesome, kind of like her.

Congratulations on your debut novel, first of all. I’m always interested in writers’ journeys to their first book. What was your writing background before this? Was writing a book something you’d always wanted to do?

I was about six or seven when I first remember the discussion of becoming a writer coming up with my neighborhood best friend. I was drawing with chalk on my driveway and randomly started writing little speeches or phrases that I made up on the spot. He told me I should be a writer. I think I laughed and purposely stepped on his Ninja Turtle pavement art. I was a total jerk that day. Once I developed an iota of maturity, I found myself really into music and poetry. I was drawn to the stories hidden in lyrics and rhymes as a preteen and teenager. I published my first poem at around age twelve and then another once I was in high school. It was a way for me to explore self-acceptance and creativity. I loved words and reading, it made sense to write as well.

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Wednesday links, springing forth like Athena fully formed

Okay, the headline has nothing to do with the links below. It does, however, have to do with something that happened yesterday. I’d just finished revising a story I’ve been working on for, no lie, three years. I’d originally intended to submit it as my manuscript for the Lambda Emerging Writers Fellowship, but as that deadline got closer I knew there was no chance I’d get it done in time so I submitted something else. (As it happened, I wrote that other story in less than a month, so there’s just no telling.)

Yesterday, after finishing that revision (and giving the story a new title), I had another idea for a story, and darn it if it didn’t have a beginning, middle, and end all pretty clearly figured out in my head. It feels like all I have to do is write it down. I don’t know why or how that happens, nor do I know why I’m feeling the short stories a lot more lately than any of my novel-length projects, but I’m going with it for now. Which is also a way of saying the novel in progress is still resting, kind of like dough. I’ll turn it into bread when it is or I am damn good and ready.

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Don’t let this be the only thing you do

So, this week I got a rejection on a story, a notice that I was wait-listed for a residency, and a job application rejected in, no lie, one hour. One hour! Now that’s efficiency. And getting wait-listed is at least not an outright rejection of my application, but unless someone wins the lottery and embarks on a whirlwind global cruise, contracts Ebola, or gets abducted by aliens, I’m outta luck. Still, glass half full!

This isn’t even the most rejection I’ve gotten in a week. There was that one week when I got four rejection notices. Three of them came on the same day. I was like, “This isn’t rejection. This is sarcasm!”

I suspect that this afternoon I will do what I’ve gotten used to doing in times like this. No, I’m not talking about pouring a glass of wine. (You totally thought that was what I was going to say, didn’t you? Well, I might still do that.) I’m going to make a loaf of bread.

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